Sunday 24 January 2016

Sunday WW1 Remembered...

Over the course of my research for my Sunday WW1 Remembered feature

I've come across  poignant and emotional work by talented and awe inspiring writers

and none more so than the work of author, poet and pacifist

Vera Brittain

Vera Brittain

Vera Mary Brittain, Lady Catlin (29 December 1893 – 29 March 1970) was a British writer and pacifist, best remembered as the author of the best-selling 1933 memoir Testament of Youth, which recount her experiences during World War One.

Testament of Youth starring Alicia Vikander and Kit Harrington
was released as a film in 2014 to mark the centenary of WW1

Virago Classic Non Fiction
This film tie-in edition published in 2014

Testament of Youth is, perhaps, one of the most famous autobiographies of World War One. It describes how Vera survived and of how she and others nursed the wounded, often in harrowing circumstances. Both her fiancé Roland Leighton and her brother Edward Brittain were killed in the war.

It is a poignant and timely reminder of a lost generation.

Here's one of my favourite poems by Vera Brittain.

The Superfluous Woman

Ghosts crying down the vistas of the years,

Recalling words

Whose echoes long have died,

And kind moss grown

Over the sharp and blood-bespattered stones

Which cut our feet upon the ancient ways.

But who will look for my coming?

Long busy days where many meet and part;

Crowded aside

Remembered hours of hope;

And city streets

Grown dark and hot with eager multitudes

Hurrying homeward whither respite waits.

But who will seek me at nightfall?

Light fading where the chimneys cut the sky;

Footsteps that pass,

Nor tarry at my door.

And far away,

Behind the row of crosses, shadows black

Stretch out long arms before the smouldering sun.

But who will give me my children?

Vera Brittain, 1919

In the aftermath of the war such was the tragic loss of so many young men that the 1921 census showed that women outnumbered men by 2 million. A generation of young women were denied their chance of marriage and motherhood.


There is no doubt that the war left a shattering legacy and it it right and proper that we should continue to mark this centenary and honour their sacrifice.


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